Yesterday, I had every reason to not walk.
At 7 am, the dark still glowered outside. One jaunt to the mailbox for the newspaper left Danny shivering as he entered in, then briskly walking to the heater to stand in front of it. 32 degrees outside! What? This is Seattle, land of the mild autumns and milder winters.
(However, Danny likes to remind me every morning, as he reads the weather forecast for any town in Colorado: “Could be worse, honey. Breck is 13 degrees today and feels like 6.”)
I couldn’t find my running shoes. Where are the winter hats? Wait, wasn’t it just August?
And outside, the entire house was swathed in fog.
The living room beckoned with warmth and the chance to cuddle on the couch with Lu, drink coffee with Danny, and settle into the seated position.
But I stay seated too much of the day anyway, for this job, in my usual position. And the days are growing shorter. There will always be an excuse.
I slipped on my red converses, found a knitted hat, enveloped myself in soft fleece for the first time in months, and went out the door.
Five minutes later, I was here. In this fog. In the darkness. Walking.
By the time I hit the forest, the fog had started lifting and I started walking fast.
This isn’t a metaphor. I’m not trying to tell you about my life through some circuitous story of a walk in the woods.
I walked. That’s it.
(These lines from Molly at Remedial Eating, one of my favorite new online discoveries, have been ringing through my head lately:
“Hits rock, misses rot, but at the end of the day, my fingers still twitch, and yesterday’s mistakes feed tomorrow’s efforts. I could get all metaphysical here, go woo-woo over journeys and destinations, but I’d rather talk stir-fry.
Cashew chicken, anyone?”)
Lately, as you may have noticed, I’ve been posting more often. Danny and I cook and talk and think about what to make for food that day. Somehow, whatever quiet story surrounds that daily meal has inspired me more than grand plans and elaborate recipes ever can. I’ve had years of talking about my internal perambulations. Mostly, these days, I want to talk about kabocha squash puree and grated kohlrabi with a Thai fish sauce dressing and fresh pumpkin pie. If I go days without writing — and working on a cookbook is good, hard work, but it rarely requires writing right now — then metaphors and elaborate stories tumble out. When I’m here every day, walking my way through the words, it feels more right.
So I walked.
By the time I reached the road, the fog had begun to lift. Blue skies emerged behind it.
And I swear, I don’t mean that as a metaphor either.
Yesterday was the day I decided to walk my way through the winter. Each winter, I fall into the torpor, the short days of weak light bringing me down. I promise myself I’ll walk or swim or do yoga later in the day, in the afternoon, after Lu goes to bed. And then I go days without moving or feeling the blood rush to my legs after a big hill. Everything feels like it’s collapsing into itself.
This year, I’m moving. Every time I walk — and not run, or train for a triathalon, or reach any kind of goal at all — I come home to a warm house with more energy than before, energy I can give to the two people I love most dearly. That energy fuels the food I make, the words I write, and the hours of playing I’m lucky enough to share with my daughter. It’s really not hard to see.
No more excuses. I need to move. There’s rain lashing at the windows right now and I’m about to go out for a long walk again.